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Freedom, divine

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K025-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

In the theistic tradition, many thinkers have held that God is infinitely powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good and perfectly free. But since a perfectly good being would invariably follow the best course of action, what can be meant when it is said that God acts freely? Two different views of divine freedom have emerged. According to the first view, God acts freely provided nothing outside him determines him to act. So when we consider God’s action of creating a world, it is clear that on the first view he acts freely since there is nothing outside him to determine him to do as he does. The difficulty with this view is that it neglects the possibility that God’s own nature might require him to create one particular world rather than another or none at all. According to the second view, God is free in an action provided it was within his power not to perform that action. Unlike the first view, on this view God acts freely only if nothing beyond God’s control necessitates his performing that action. The problem for this view is that since it is impossible for God, being perfectly good, not to choose to follow the best course of action, it is difficult to see how God could be free in such an action.

Citing this article:
Rowe, William L.. Freedom, divine, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K025-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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